We all know January is a month of renewal. But in my world it’s also a month of birthdays. Including my own.
One of my treasured birthday traditions comes from my sweet friend Laura, who for every birthday would give me a card with my “If you were born on this day…” horoscope cut out from the newspaper or printed out from online. I’ve never been an avid follower of horoscopes, life signs and the like, but I do get a kick of foretelling what might be in my future for the coming year. As the years have progressed, I’ve actually discovered some real similarities in my astrological sign, my life and personality. It’s somewhat thrilling and eerie at the same time.
Oddly enough, four friends who are some of my closest comrades at this time of my life—Kim, Susie, Sherrie and Angie—are also January babies, each of them sharing a birthday within one week of mine. Somehow our Capricorn earth sign/Aquarius air sign are oddly compatible. I read it is a union of opposites, resulting in prolific relationships. Well, that part must be true, because I sure do like these ladies…
Me? I’m a Capricornian, born on the Capricorn/Aquarius cusp between January 16 and January 22, and scarily close to the personality description those star-followers have deemed me to be, both the good and the bad.
I’m stubborn but creative with lots of ideas and fantasies of what could be. Traditional but offbeat. Security craving but independent. And I have a tendency to see both sides of things, which can be good and bad, thanks to the Aquarian pulling me one way and the Capricorn pulling me in another. Just don’t make me order first at a restaurant because inevitably I change my mind.
But as Paula Abdul is quick to say, “You own that, girl.” And I do, as I try to relish in the good and improve on what I can.
In the past two weeks I’ve baked this cake twice already. Once for Angie’s birthday dinner and again for my own. Sherrie’s birthday is this week so she might just be finding one in her kitchen too. It’s that good. Too good not to share. I better get baking for my Kim & Susie, wouldn’t want anyone to be left out of all of this goodness.
The original devil’s food cake recipe is from my go-to Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe and is usually baked in the traditional style, 3-tier cake. My tiered cakes usually end in a fail, and the first time I made this cake wasn’t for a test, it was for a real life dinner so I went the tried and true route of using my trusty bundt pan.
Do you know how to tell if the cake is going to turn out delicious? When the batter tastes too good to quit sampling. But I had to put my foot down at some point or we were going to end up with a pint sized bundt.
The crumb on this cake is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, amazingly light and airy, thanks to the combination of cake flour and regular flour and the recipe didn’t call for much in relation to the size of the cake. It’s pure chocolate decadence, if you’re into that sort of thing. Of which, I am.
I toyed around with making a buttercream frosting but that would mean making the swirls look all pretty and nice and it would hide the trademark ridges of a bundt. So I decided to go with a simple (yes, that is one of my mantras) ganache. Since I had leftover coffee in the coffee maker (when will I ever figure out that I don’t drink 6 cups in the morning?) I figured a little bitterness to all that sweet chocolate would be an amazing combo. To give it a little more oomph I added in some instant espresso.
Oh my. Oh my. It was like the stars aligned. And I was more than happy to be part of this cake’s rising moon.
Daily Horoscope, Wednesday, January 23, 2013
“Today you may discover that you have a previously untapped talent for the occult sciences, Aquarius. This might involve astrology, numerology, alchemy, or using oracles. (WHOA, I AM AT THIS MOMENT WRITING A POST ABOUT HOROSCOPES, NEVER HAVE THOUGHT TO BEFORE.) A class or workshop could be involved. (I AM ATTENDING ALTITUDE DESIGN SUMMIT TODAY THROUGH FRIDAY.) You tend to be intuitive by nature, and studying these fields may offer an opportunity to train that ability to a higher level of accuracy. Find an expert in one of those areas.” (I WILL, I WILL, I PROMISE!)
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- 1 ¼ cups boiling water
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 sticks, softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- ¼ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a non-stick bundt pan with butter then coat with a light dusting of flour, getting into all of the crevices. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
- Place unsweetened chocolate squares in a large ziploc bag, seal bag then firmly but gently pound chocolate into chunks with the flat edge of a meat tenderizer. Remove from bag and place in a small bowl with the dutch-processed cocoa and pour boiling water over chocolate. Mix well to combine and set aside. In a large bowl or on a piece of parchment paper, sift the flours, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and cream for another 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape sides of mixing bowl. At medium-high speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds in between each addition. Scrape sides of bowl again then add sour cream and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds or until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then add half of the chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Repeat ending with the flour mixture being careful not to overbeat. Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape sides and mix well by hand until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the bundt pan, evening out the top of the batter. Bake on the middle rack for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, rest in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- While cake is cooling, make the ganache. In a double boiler or a small pan filled with 1-inch of water topped with a glass or metal bowl, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring every minute or so until melted. Remove from heat or from bottom boiler and stir in brewed coffee, instant espresso and vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl to avoid lumps and whisk well. If you prefer a stiffer ganache, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool to room temperature. If ganache becomes too stiff to drizzle on cake, add a bit of hot water or hot coffee to thin.
- Once cake is cooled, place on a cake platter and drizzle with ganache. Serve and enjoy.
- Cake will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days.
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